Steve Jobs died from a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Given that he was the co-founder of Apple and a billionaire, his cancer diagnosis received more attention than if he were an “ordinary” person. Understandable. But the news came and went and there really wasn’t that big of a to do about it. There was talk of his diet, and exposure to toxins early in his career in Silicon Valley, but certainly no national discussion. No talk of bipartisan committees or legislative changes.
What do you think the difference would have been had Mr. Jobs been shot and murdered versus cancer? In terms of media coverage? Would the public be plastering social media with images and slogans that were anti or pro gun? You better believe this ancillary topic would be trending. How he died would be as big or bigger news than the fact that he did die.
Death by gun would have sparked discussion about gun control laws. Politicians would undoubtedly be using it to make their case for or against guns.
More recently, within about a week of each other, former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, and former major league baseball all-star Curt Schilling,announced they had cancer. It was news. News that came and went without much fanfare. Of course I wish them both a speedy recovery.
What might the difference have been had Brokaw and Schilling both been hospitalized for gun shot wounds? Or victims of terrorism?
For some perspective:
- In 2010 there were 10.1 firearm deaths per one hundred thousand people.
- In 2010 there were 172.8 cancer deaths per one hundred thousand people.
- I couldn’t find the similar statistic for terrorism in terms of death rate per 100,000 but in 2010 there were a total of four deaths from terrorism in the U.S.. While over 574,000 died from cancer.
The point is not to diminish the importance of vigilance, discussion, and review of policy as it relates to gun control and terrorism. Rather it is to indicate that we massively need to elevate the importance of doing more where cancer is concerned.
Politics and sports have something in common. They are results oriented. If the job isn’t getting done, there is 24/7 analysis, scrutiny, and calls for transparency and change. And if the masses are unhappy, the media starts calling for heads, and indeed turnover often occurs.
Cancer protocols do not have to follow the same formula identically, but considering:
- Millions of deaths have occurred.
- The rate of diagnosis has skyrocketed.
- The number of deaths per year is rising.
- The collateral damage to the emotions of loved ones left behind.
- The cost is billions of dollars.
We the people need to demand to know what is going on. We need transparency. We need accountability. Maybe we need big changes in how we’re going about finding the cure, and in medical care. Maybe we need little changes. Or just a few fresh ideas. We need to make it more of an issue and find out. We need to think about the things we would be doing if close to 575,000 thousand people per year were dying from guns or terrorism and employ relevant strategies to the fight against cancer.